GMB calls on government to step in and halt “financing pantomime”

The GMB has warned a bid by Chinese General Nuclear (CGN) to buy a stake in the troubled Moorside nuclear power station is “not the solution”.

The trade union’s national secretary, Justin Bowden, described the on-going problems around the project as a “financing pantomime” and called on the government to step in and support the plant.

Utility Week reported earlier this week that the state-backed CGN confirmed to Reuters it is looking to bid for an equity stake in the NuGen site in Cumbria.

“We are willing to utilise our experience in nuclear design, construction and operation for more than 30 years to support the development of Britain’s nuclear industry,” a company spokesman said in a statement.

In response, Bowden this “latest offer of overseas aid” suggests “the lessons of Toshiba have still to be learned”.

“Most members of the public will be looking on in continued bewilderment at the financing pantomime surrounding Moorside and asking why on earth the UK government hasn’t stepped in rather than touting around the world looking for another government to take over a responsibility that ultimately rests with it?” said Bowden.

“The UK civil nuclear industry was once the envy of the world; going cap in hand to the Chinese, Koreans or whoever is not the solution when Moorside and new nuclear should be a key cornerstone of government-led UK industrial strategy going forward.

“The UK government cannot keep pretending to be a passive spectator,” he added.

The nuclear power project was originally developed by Toshiba and Engie.

But in April, Engie sold its 40 per cent stake in the project to Toshiba for around ¥15.3 billion (£110 million).

The French firm invoked a contractual right to offload its share in the event of a default, after Toshiba’s subsidiary Westinghouse, which was due to supply three of its AP1000 reactors for the project, filed for bankruptcy protection in the US.